Saudi Ritz reopens after stint as gilded prison of princes


Saudi Arabia's corruption crackdown, where hundreds were detained in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel for weeks, is over in some senses, but now the government is looking to collect on the deals made between the detained business leaders and officials.

The gates of the luxury hotel, where US President Donald Trump stayed during his state visit a year ago, had been shuttered and patrolled by black-uniformed royal guard units while dozens of princes, former ministers and business tycoons were interrogated inside.

Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb announced authorities reached agreements to recover $107 billion including real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets at the end of the three-month investigation. The hotel's gates were reopened, the royal guards removed and the lobby's crystal chandeliers gleamed as before.

One foreign consultant said: "It's an honour to be back".

He said the purge had not left any trace on the 492-room hotel where the lowest rate is 2,439 riyals ($650) a night.

"You forget about it as soon as you're in your room and you get lost in your own bubble", the man said.

Some Western media outlets had reported that the hotel would resume normal operations on February 14, while others had accurately what the hotel now officially confirmed that the date will be tomorrow.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major investor in Western firms, was among those held at the hotel for more than 80 days until his release last month.

Prince Miteb was also released after agreeing to pay an unconfirmed sum believed to be billions of dollars.

In an interview with The New York Times in November, Prince Mohammed described as "ludicrous" reports equating the crackdown to a power grab, saying that many of those detained at the opulent Ritz-Carlton had already pledged allegiance to him.